Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving thanks

Emma was with her dad for Thanksgiving Day this year, so I was on my own.  I celebrated the holiday by going for a hike and making a pizza when I got home.

I went to one of my favorite places, Catherine Creek State Park, about half an hour from my house.


Over the river and through the woods...


It was a lovely day, about 30 degrees out and no wind.  This is such a pretty half-mile path between the bridges over the creek.


I walked the mile there and back, and wasn't ready to go home, so I walked the other way up to the top of the hill as well.  That's a bit more of an effort, but the woods were so beautiful.

Even though I got out there at 1:00, the days are so short now that the sky was starting to turn sunset colors.  It was fully dark by the time I got home at 4:30.  Less than a month left until we turn the corner into longer days.

I am so grateful that I live in a place where I can just go walk in the woods for a couple hours, enjoy the silence, and breathe the free air.  I didn't see anyone else during the entire three hours I was hiking.

I am grateful that I feel safe.

I am grateful that I have food and water and a roof over my head.

I am grateful that I have a good job, albeit sometimes a frustrating and overwhelming one, that keeps the bills paid and the savings growing while allowing for hobbies and other non-necessities.

Most of all, I am grateful for Emma, who is my joy and is growing into a beautiful young woman.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Looking like a terrarium

I put the live sphagnum moss in the terrarium, and it's so pretty!  I think this will really help with keeping the humidity up for these cute little plants.  Right now all that's in there is the Lepanthopsis astrophora on the rock and the Haraella retrocalla on the stick.  I still can't decide if I want to take the Haraella off the stick.  It's pretty firmly attached, and seems very happy where it is.

Terrarium: Lepanthopsis astrophora on the rock, Haraella retrocalla on the stick

And here's the Lepanthes telipogoniflora in its own little glass teardrop with some sphagnum.

Lepanthes telipogoniflora in its glass teardrop home.

These make me smile.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bread on Sunday

Emma says that we should make bread every Sunday.  Who am I to argue?

Crock-pot pot roast. Oven-roasted veggies. Home made cinnamon swirl whole wheat bread. Yum.

This is the same recipe as last week, but swapping out 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour for part of the white flour, and adding a good sprinkle of cinnamon in the middle before rolling it up to shape the loaf.  Mmmm.  Adding the whole wheat flour was an improvement, and the bread is really good.

Add in a chuck roast cooked on "low" in the slow cooker for 9 hours (with thyme, lemon balm, salt, and pepper added in the last hour), potatoes and carrots roasted in the oven for an hour with rosemary, thyme, pepper, and olive oil. and WOW.  The roast was succulent and falling-apart tender, the veggies were so sweet, and the bread was amazing as only fresh home made bread can be.


Friday, November 20, 2015

New orchid babies

Just like everything else in my life, I seem to do orchid-growing in obsessive waves.  I mean, the orchids are always there, they will always be there, just not front and center all the time.  Then something special blooms (Aerangis punctata!), and suddenly I'm obsessed again.

(Stop laughing, Rachel!)

For the past few weeks, it's been orchid-fest here (and amaryllis, but we won't talk about that right now).  I caught up on the online bulletin board I follow, I researched different species, I browsed pictures on Flickr, I daydreamed about how broke I would be if I had a greenhouse.

And I had to get a few new pretties- here are the four most recent.  These are miniature species, which is good because I really don't have all that much room for new plants (especially after also getting five new amaryllis, but we won't talk about that right now).

I just really love having plants around me.

New orchids

First up is Haraella retrocalla, also known as Haraella odorata.  It's native to Taiwan, and has enchanting little yellow and red flowers that are sometimes fragrant and bloom one at a time.  My plant came to me with two spikes already started, one visible on the front of the plant below the third leaf from the top and the other hidden behind the leaf next to my index finger.

My new Haraella retrocalla (odorata)

The second plant is Lepanthopsis astrophora, native to Columbia and nearby Central and South America.  It produces spikes of little electric purple star-shaped flowers.

My new Lepanthopsis astrophora

As you can see, these are getting smaller and smaller.  The next is the tiniest of all.  It's Lepanthes telipogoniflora, also native to Columbia. It has amazing orange flowers that look like tiny satellite dishes.  You can see the remnants of a previous flower stalk there, and I can't wait to see this one bloom.  It's so tiny and perfect.

Tiny, so very tiny! My new Lepanthes telipogoniflora.

And last but not least, a mystery.  This is supposed to be Pleurothallis lewisiae, but it looks nothing like what I was expecting.  All the pictures I've seen (and the ones I saw in the wild in Costa Rica almost 20 years ago) had tiny 1/2" round flattened leaves that crept along the branch and hardly stood up at all.

I have a feeling this is not that plant, though the label says it is.  I could be wrong, though, and have emailed the grower to see what's up.  Whatever it is, it's a beautiful healthy plant and I'm feeling myself growing attached in the four days I've had it.  I'm curious to see what the blooms look like.  I just want to be sure I can give it the right conditions.


All these species, especially the last three which are in the Pleurothallid group, really need to be grown in a terrarium environment with high humidity.  Particularly here in eastern Oregon, which is very dry for much of the year.

Luckily I have this 10" glass globe vase that I've been lugging around for 20 years and finally have a use for.  It will be a mini-orchid terrarium of sorts for the Lepanthopsis and the Haraella.  The super tiny Lepanthes will get its own globe thingy, one of those glass teardrop window hangers from a craft store that came with a bromeliad air plant in it. I may or may not take that one to work so I can look at it all day.

So here's the start of the terrarium.

Terrarium start.  Note please the tailor-made orchid nook in the rock.

I found this lava rock on a hike a couple years ago, and it very conveniently has a little nook to hold a small orchid.

Lepanthopsis astrophora situated

There's the Lepanthopsis all nestled in.  The rock eventually will sit on a bed of sphagnum moss over a layer of expanded clay pellets to provide drainage and keep the moss from actually sitting in water.

It's a work in progress, and that's all I've done so far.  The Haraella is hanging from the rim of the glass globe for now because I can't decide if I want to take it off its stick mount, and the "Pleurothallis lewisiae" is too big to fit so it's in the aquarium (no water, just an enclosure to keep the humidity high) with my Angraecoid orchids for now.

Plants are fun and these are so special.  I really hope I can keep them alive.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Thanks to They Might Be Giants, this has been the theme song of my day.

 "This is where the party ends
 I can't stand here listening to you
 And your racist friend
I know politics bore you
But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you
And your racist friend."

To be honest, I'm not a very political person.  I vote, and do my research beforehand, but political discussions are not something I enjoy.  It doesn't help that any of that sort of conversation with some (not all) of the people I'm in contact with on a daily basis tends to infuriate me.

I generally try to let it roll off my back and tell myself that a diversity of viewpoints is a good thing, but I reached the end of my tether this morning. I left the hallway conversation with this song running through my head.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Home made dinner

Today I gave my KitchenAid stand mixer a workout.  First I made bread, trying out a new recipe from the interwebs.  It's a basic white bread, but has a great balance of density and airiness, with a nice texture.  I think the recipe is a good place to start, but next time I'll add some whole wheat flour because I'm not really much of a fan of white bread.


Then, since it was SNOWING,

First snow in the yard this winter!

I decided to make pasta.  I had 22 eggs that a friend had given me a little while ago (from her own chickens), and I knew that there was no way that we would be able to eat them all in time unless I made something with them, considering that Emma doesn't like eggs unless they're hidden in something and she can't detect any cooked-egg texture.

So I took 4 eggs and made a double batch of plain narrow linguine with just white flour, which works out to about 8 servings for us.  The KitchenAid pasta roller attachments are just so slick!


That was so fun that I took 6 more eggs and made a triple batch of narrow linguine with half semolina flour and half white flour.

Pasta pasta pasta

Those 10 eggs gave me about 20 servings of pasta.  I put 18 of them in the dehydrator, and cooked two of the semolina bundles for dinner (and had a bit left over, so that "two serving" portion was really more like three).

Home made pasta, home grown and canned tomato sauce, home made bread, and grocery store frozen peas that I dehydrated in August 2014.

Home made pasta, home grown tomato sauce, home made bread.


As Emma was eating her pasta, I was astonished and a little taken aback to look over and see that she was actually teary.  I asked her what was wrong, and she said that she couldn't believe that we made all these things ourselves, and the pasta and sauce just tasted so good.

If that isn't a proud moment, I don't know what is.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Kuchulu and cashmere and silk

I wanted to spin last night, but I didn't want to leave My Chair, even to sit at my beloved Schacht-Reeves wheel.  Solution? Kuchulu.

I love Kuchulu spindles because they're so perfectly tiny that I can spin while reclining in My Chair, watching Netflix on my computer, blissful in my productive slothfulness.

Cashmere and silk (Abstract Fibers) on a snakewood Kuchulu spindle (Jenkins Woodworking)

This is a Kuchulu spindle by Jenkins Woodworking, made of snakewood and weighing 12 grams, which I got at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in 2013.  The fiber is natural colored cashmere and silk from Abstract Fiber, which I got at the Hood River Spin-In last month.

What a gorgeous spindle.  What a gorgeous bundle of fiber.  I feel like I'm spinning silver.

I feel like I'm spinning silver